- The Washington Times - Monday, June 6, 2016

Sen. Bernard Sanders says he isn’t going anywhere — but analysts say he’ll have to win California’s presidential primary Tuesday to avoid being seen as a “narcissistic” sore loser.

Mr. Sanders has campaigned hard across California in recent weeks, hoping for a big win to end the primary season. Such a victory not only would add new fuel to his campaign and give him some justification to remain in the race against Hillary Clinton until the Democratic convention in July, it also would raise doubts about Mrs. Clinton’s viability.

“He needs to display some kind of a strategy, make clear there’s kind of a plan. Otherwise it looks like you’re a narcissistic politician who is in to win at any cost.” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston who specializes in presidential leadership.

“He will start to lose the support of his potential allies within the party. [Mrs. Clinton] is going to focus on trying to bring people together. If he continues to try to push the issue, I think even his supporters will abandon him. A movement is all well and good, but the party still needs to win an election,” Mr. Rottinghaus said.

Mrs. Clinton has the backing of most major California Democrats yet leads by just 4.5 percentage points in the state, according to a Real Clear Politics average of all polls.

Mr. Sanders‘ strategy presents a problem for Mrs. Clinton and for the Democratic Party establishment, both of whom are eager to move past Mr. Sanders and focus all of their attention and energy on attacking Mr. Trump. Even President Obama reportedly is considering officially endorsing Mrs. Clinton on Wednesday, a move that seemingly would signal the end of the Democratic primary fight.

SEE ALSO: Bernie Sanders: Hillary Clinton too quick to rush to war, Iraq vote ‘not just an abberation’

But even though Mrs. Clinton almost surely will reach the number of delegates needed to claim the nomination Tuesday — assuming party superdelegates stand by the former first lady — Mr. Sanders says he won’t be going anywhere.

“It is extremely unlikely that Secretary Clinton will have the requisite number of pledged delegates to claim victory on Tuesday night,” Mr. Sanders said during a news conference over the weekend in California. “At the end of the nominating process, no candidate will have enough pledged delegates to call the campaign a victory. That will be dependent upon superdelegates. In other words, the Democratic National Convention will be a contested convention.”

Mr. Sanders‘ strategy centers on convincing party superdelegates to jump ship and support him instead of Mrs. Clinton. There’s little evidence they’ll do so, and it appears likely Mrs. Clinton will reach the 2,383 delegates needed to become the party’s presumptive nominee after Tuesday’s contests.

Democrats in Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota also will go to the polls Tuesday.

After her win in Puerto Rico over the weekend, Mrs. Clinton has 2,360 delegates to Mr. Sanders 1,567, according to an Associated Press tally. The figures include superdelegates, 548 of whom support Mrs. Clinton compared to just 46 who back Mr. Sanders.

There are 548 delegates at stake in the California primary.

Seventy-three are superdelegates, and of those, at least 61 already have come out in favor of Mrs. Clinton.

For her part, Mrs. Clinton largely has ceased attacks on Mr. Sanders and says she wants to unify the Democratic Party after the California contest. She admits, however, that the fight is not yet officially over.

“I know there is a lot of work still going on,” she said Monday in California. “It’s not over until it’s over, and tomorrow is a really important day, particularly here in California.”

Sanders supporters say that the campaign has energized progressives and that the senator has earned the right to stay in the race until the convention.

“Simply put, while there are still contests ahead, there’s no reason for Bernie Sanders to do anything that doesn’t help his campaign or the issues he’s waged it on earn more support,” said Neil Sroka, spokesman for the liberal PAC Democracy for America, which is backing Mr. Sanders. “After winning 20 states and bringing millions of new populist-progressive voters into the political process, Bernie Sanders and the grass-roots movement behind him has more than earned the right to lay out their own path toward uniting the party at the convention and helping lead Democrats to defeat Donald Trump in November.”

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